Re: Why Hate Harem?

#1
Few days ago I was reading a story on Scribble Hub and I came across very good Harem story, I won't bore you guys further, but I was thinking why does Royal Road hate harem? Many times I have seen author's synopsis mocking  harem genre like it's trash or usually many readers outright threatening the author if they go to harem route. So, Why is harem seen as wish fulfillment and not sci-fi or xianxia or any other genre? And why despite having read many good harem novels on this site they are flooded with hate?


Edit: First of all I want say thanks to everyone for replying this thread, As I read all replies, I see many people have negative opinions of harem and I can kinda understand it, Japnese media has spoiled the genre to some extent and many people's on this site have one way or other came reading manga, Anime or WN. As another person said what I like shouldn't have any relation to other people liking to it or not, Plus i think big part of misunderstandings comes from that many people have western mindset. And Harem genre directly or indirectly oppose their monogamy culture? Value? Ethics?, I don't have right word for it. plus it is made worse, that it's written by people who never experienced or closely seen any polygamous relationship. Harem is lot toxic in real life, I  know because I have seen it up close and I wouldn't want to be in there tbh.That isn't not say harem genre is never done right, like I said before I have read many good harem on this site and also some outright trash, in the end It's still my fav genre and probably would remain for a long while.

P.S. sorry for all the Grammer mistakes pls ignore them. 

Re: Why Hate Harem?

#2
because it dilutes the romance with every added girl. Authors can say the mc loves every girl the same but it just isn't possible. Time is a finite resource he can spend on each gal and if he cut one short to be with someone else it just means he doesn't give his 100% for one. If you have 5 girls with everyone having 2-3 chapters of lovey-dovey you could have a different story with only 1 love interest that had 15 chapters all for herself instead. and we would care more for her because of it.

Re: Why Hate Harem?

#3
Royal Road doesn't hate Harems. But some readers may have a low opinion of them. 

I personally don't like them. If there was a story to start, it gets worse and worse as the MC collects more and more sex toys. Each one becomes less relevant. The characters in the Harem are often defined only by abilities and looks, or type of monster girl. They have little to no personalities. Might as well be fuckable pokemon. 

I've read what I consider good harem stories. Usually I didn't know it was going the harem route and keep with the story when it does. Often I drop them because the story i liked disappears, diluted by bad sex and too many characters.  

If you like Harem stories, that's fine. Different people like different types of stories. What other people think of them shouldn't lesson your enjoyment of what you like to read. 

Re: Why Hate Harem?

#4
Generally, I see them as poor fan service and an annoying trope. The only times I can stand harems is if it's done in a comedic light or actually flows with the story naturally similar to how Re:Monster does it with half-breed offspring.

I wouldn't lambast someone for enjoying harems though, different people like different things.

Re: Why Hate Harem?

#5
I give harems a hard pass because there is absolutely no way to have a happy and/or fulfilling ending. 

Which girl/guy is the mc supposed to pick? They won’t, because that’s the nature of a harem. 
It gets stale very quickly, like reading someone stuck in limbo, forever yo-yoing between potential partners until the inevitable conclusion where no one gets a fulfilled ending.

Re: Why Hate Harem?

#6

YuanMi Wrote: I give harems a hard pass because there is absolutely no way to have a happy and/or fulfilling ending. 

Which girl/guy is the mc supposed to pick? They won’t, because that’s the nature of a harem. 
It gets stale very quickly, like reading someone stuck in limbo, forever yo-yoing between potential partners until the inevitable conclusion where no one gets a fulfilled ending.

Why should he pick one though? Can't he pick like 3 or 4, why does everyone assumes that you need to pick 1? Plus if it's fantasy world isn't it reassuring to have multiple wives and in turn their connections?

Re: Why Hate Harem?

#7

Sam1515 Wrote:
YuanMi Wrote: I give harems a hard pass because there is absolutely no way to have a happy and/or fulfilling ending. 

Which girl/guy is the mc supposed to pick? They won’t, because that’s the nature of a harem. 
It gets stale very quickly, like reading someone stuck in limbo, forever yo-yoing between potential partners until the inevitable conclusion where no one gets a fulfilled ending.

Why should he pick one though? Can't he pick like 3 or 4, why does everyone assumes that you need to pick 1? Plus if it's fantasy world isn't it reassuring to have multiple wives and in turn their connections?



That’s a good point. It is part of the wish-fulfillment. 
I just personally don’t like it, because if the character I’m rooting for isn’t picked, it sucks. And even if they do, I feel cheated for them because they have to share the mc. 

It’s the point ClLinkzSpre3 made. It just dilutes the romance.

Re: Why Hate Harem?

#9
Personally, I don't like the empty trope shells most harem partners would turn to be once they got into the harem. I could read polyamorous relationships, but harem power fantasy doesn't work that well since the MC never settles. He doesn't strive to make a home for these women, they are just tag-along and hang on to his every power-up.

And I don't like the (screentime) abandonment that happens afterward. The fun of it always revolves around pursuing partners. During this courtship/tension phase, the author would paint them so tragically, beautifully, or so badass, that the tension could really add to the dynamic of the story and all that. But once the MC got them (mostly via sex), that's it. They now have a role, and can't go outside that role or it'll ruin the set the MC seems to be collecting. Lots of times they even have to adjust soo much to accommodate the MC's circumstances (that's why it's better if they are slaves or at their lowest so they have nothing else to lose to latch on to him).

And when I read another arc where the MC pursues another potential harem member, all the previous interesting love interests would conveniently be out of the story or their presence too thin for the MC to focus all his attention on that potential member (at worst get fridged).

It makes it harder to get attached to the characters and the story when it is conveniently twisted or made dumb to provide the MC with the harem. So yea, um that's it.

Also, some stories are borderline rape-y or NTR, and I don't get any enjoyment outta those. So I, unfortunately, have linked those elements to harem tags, which sucks. So I don't venture to those stories unless it's clear, for my peace of mind.

Re: Why Hate Harem?

#10
The Harem genre has two major issues for me. The first being that it is generally just straight up done poorly. Because most of the time harem is just fan service. To make a believable harem, you need a world in which a harem is believable. So you need to incorporate the concept into your world in a believable fashion. So it shouldn't be just the protagonist who has a harem. Moreover, there need to be a social structure in which this is acceptable.. This can all be done in a believable fashion, it is however hard and might become somewhat alien to western readers.

Because things like a slave harem tend to far removed from western values. You'd have to write a world in which equality isn't really a thing -- and everything that comes with that. A more equal harem has it's own issues. Because there you'll inevitably get interpersonal drama -- a genre which tends to be disliked by harem authors. 
And there are many many more little things you'd have to change to make things believable.

The second issue is that it dilutes characters. Because if you make two (or more) characters do similar things, you'll either have to either do that activity a lot -- which tends to get boring -- or you'll need to cut down on those interactions. So each character will have fewer interactions and thus have less depth or the story will become repetitive and boring. 
---

Having said that, I do occasionally read novels with the harem tag. There are times where it doesn't really bother me, but most of the time I'm left disappointed(for the reasons stated above). So it can be done well. And in the cases it is done well, the love interest tends to get plenty of screen time, there aren't too many (mostly just 2 or 3 -- at which point I tend to ask myself if that can really be considered as a 'harem'), the world is developed well and the interpersonal drama isn't ignored or dealt with by circumstances. 

Overall it seems like a fairly complex topic, which is often liked by beginning authors. And because the two don't mix well, this is generally not a genre that inspired confidence.

Re: Why Hate Harem?

#11
if people want to pursue multiple girls for wish fullfillment or whatever reason i dont understand why its always have to be a harem anyway.. why cant the mc just be a player who fucks around, sweet talks his way into their pants, and that's it. Him beeing "serious" about such a girl is just breaking it for me. Casual sex or friends with benefits kinda deal would be preferable. Even if the girl thinks otherwise as long as the mc and by extension, the reader knows, that would be enough.

A Harem would maybe work if its like in ancient china with politics and backstabbing for the favor. I just cant see a loving relationship in those kinda settings.

Re: Why Hate Harem?

#12
I personally find harems boring because they just make me feel like I’m reading someone else’s daydreams. Granted, part of this is probably because I’m a straight woman and most harems aren’t made to appeal to my demographic, but I find that the same is true for reverse harems with loads of male characters vying for a single woman. Most of the time, the harem members have zero personality outside of their attraction to the MC, the MC is no better themselves, and all of the relationships feel incredibly shallow. How am I supposed to like characters with no personalities, and how am I supposed to root for relationships where the partners have nothing in common? This is especially true when the harem members are clearly just there for fanservice. At a certain point it becomes about as riveting as watching some loser collect sex toys. I get why some people enjoy the fantasy of a harem, but for me personally, it just feels like looking into a bored middle schooler’s math class fantasies (“and the beautiful elf princess is TOTALLY in love with me, and the cute monster girl wants me too, and so does the hot high school cheerleader, and the student council president…”)

I also find that harem stories tend to have a lot of plotlines that creep me out. One thing that really bothers me is when the writers try to make the harem seem more realistic/reasonable by making all of the love interests powerless in some way (e.g. they’re slaves, they’re some kind of oppressed-but-still-sexy human subspecies, they’re men in a matriarchy or women in a patriarchy, etc.) I guess it’s supposed to justify why they cling to the protagonist so much, but it just makes me feel kinda sad for them. If the only reason they’re in the harem is because they’re in a shitty situation and being “chosen” is their one way out, that’s not love, that’s disconcerting. Then there’s all of the other issues—uncomfortable power dynamics, sexism portrayed as a good thing, elements of rape and non-con—which can easily ruin a story for me. Ultimately, I’m sure there are well-done harems, but they’re buried under an avalanche of trash, and I’m not really into the genre anyway.

Re: Why Hate Harem?

#13
The more you read these fictions, the more noticeable flaws become and honestly, the harem genre is just one massive flaw.  Think about it, in reality, harems come about because you lucked into some weird bisexual threesome or you take advantage of a girl in some way forcing them into it.  IE, buy a slave, take one from a family with a really backwards culture where woman are seen as objects, etc.  

Most authors try and squeeze their harem participants into a gray area where the situation is morally gray enough that the readers can feign ignorance and eventually the woman falls in love.  But you know damn well this isn't realistic.  

The entire genre is basically a house of cards.  Blow on it and it falls over.  

Re: Why Hate Harem?

#14
It's not that I hate harems, per se. It is one of my guilty pleasures, and I certainly see the appeal from both ends. Who wouldn't want to be adored by a lot of women/men and have them compete after your affection? Sure, it's vain and near-sociopathic, but if that's what it takes to dream, then by all means put me in the straitjacket.

The problem arises within cliches and troupes, or the way affection is gain. It actually coincides with the guilty pleasure part. Since it is made with the mind of being just a pleasure to read, most authors just straight up take the easy route and make the gals/guys fall in love with just a bare show of kindness, or that the MC said words of encouragement. Sometimes they just see the MC hold an umbrella above a poor kitty in a box at the side of the street and the love just kindles like that. It just dilutes the meaning of gaining another person's affection. This doesn't give me pleasure, this is just a surrealistic world where the bar for human kindness is not kicking every shin you see. Make meaningful events that drastically change the harem member, or at least gain intimacy through organic means (like, I don't know, CONVERSING or HAVING FUN).

Then there's the issue of personality, or more specific, the lack of one. It's three-dimensional voluptuous cardboard cut-outs with the usual cookie-cutter personality. You have TOMBOY CHILDHOOD FRIEND (TSUNDERE 90%), SERIOUS STUDENT COUNCIL PRESIDENT (MAY OR MAY NOT BE WELL-ENDOWNED, IN PROBABLE RIVALRY WITH CHILDHOOD FRIEND), LOLI WHO WANTS TO MARRY MC, SHY LIBRARY BIG TIDDY/LOLI GAL, ONEE-SAN/ONII-CHAN INCEST (I'M NOT ONE TO JUDGE BUT THERE'S A LOT OF THESE, LIKE A 1:3 RATIO IN HAREM BOOKS). It gets worse in reverse harems. It's just LANKY OBSESSIVE TWINK WITH GOOD NECKS AND GIANT HANDS. Maybe it's because I'm not the key demographic but still, it gets to the point where I'm not self-inserting myself into a fictional paradise; it's like I'm nursing lobotomy victims. Give them some individuality, and for the love of God, let them reject the MC at times. It's not satisfying if it's constant validation. It doesn't feel good; it feels like I'm getting marketed towards. Human emotion isn't something to be pampered with, it's something that has to be earned/gained.

Re: Why Hate Harem?

#15
For me, I don't dislike harems.  I dislike tropes.  Anything that's been done so much that it is a trope is boring to me.  

For example, I think savage divinity does its harem well. There are personal problems from the get go, the women are actually different, etc.

If I were to read a harem story, I hafta ask: What makes this harem plotline different?  Is it realistic or is the main character collecting women like Pokémon?

I don't think most rr readers would have a problem with a harem if that harem was written well.  I think the problem lies in the repetitive nature of the trope being overused.

You likely see just as many writers make fun of isekai and other similar tropes if you look. 

Re: Why Hate Harem?

#16

Allanther Wrote: For me, I don't dislike harems.  I dislike tropes.  Anything that's been done so much that it is a trope is boring to me.  

For example, I think savage divinity does its harem well. There are personal problems from the get go, the women are actually different, etc.

If I were to read a harem story, I hafta ask: What makes this harem plotline different?  Is it realistic or is the main character collecting women like Pokémon?

I don't think most rr readers would have a problem with a harem if that harem was written well.  I think the problem lies in the repetitive nature of the trope being overused.

You likely see just as many writers make fun of isekai and other similar tropes if you look.

Exactly. I completely agree with this.


For me, the harems I've seen just tend to be wish fulfillment, and the women in the story live only to have sex. I once was reading this story where the MC walked for the whole day, and the girls in his harem just walked around naked the whole day in anticipation of having sex with him. I think harems should have a purpose, not just be there for the sake of having one. If you want a harem, make it integral to the story. I saw a post that said something similar about sex scenes, how if they don't affect the story at all, don't have them or make them fade to black. Only write intimate moments if it does affect the story, such as deepening their relationship, etc.

Re: Why Hate Harem?

#17
Harems tend to drain the personality of everyone involved in them, Mc included. Harems can be done well, and can be fun/interesting relationship-wise. but most often they aren't.

Gotta catchem all - is typically what goes on with a harem tagged story. Unfortunately, Ash always goes back to pikachu, and the latest pokemon gets sent to the farm.

There was a light novel I was reading called something like "I brought my farm to the other world" or something along those lines, very typical xanxia stuff. I enjoyed reading it, I enjoyed the 'girls' being introduced as romantic interests and how they each brought something to the table. Unfortunately, once brought into the harem, each of these girls would lose about 60% or more of their personality and once brought to the MC's hideout, they literally begin losing the drive to be their own person. This is partly addressed through the plot, sort of, but mostly it is because of the power creep endemic to all xanxia. transcending worlds and universes of power level, the harem literally gets thrown to periphery. Almost like the author themselves realised the mess they had made and didn't want to deal with it anymore.

I like well written or hilariously badly written Harem, I can't really tolerate anything in between. A fantastic example is the satire angle from FFF trash hero. The previous hero's harem was the standard for fanservice, picking up literally anything with a pulse and ending up with a number of wives in the hundreds. When the wives started assassinating one another and each others children, the hero just died inside, because he couldn't pick a side and all the people he loved were set on thinning the herd. This harem was composed of people the hero lusted after, political marriages, people he had genuine romantic interest in, etc etc. The author takes all of this vague vacuous nonsense and makes it a core tenant of the plot for a completely unrelated character, and its fricking amazing.

Re: Why Hate Harem?

#18

Blind_Watcher Wrote: I like well written or hilariously badly written Harem, I can't really tolerate anything in between. A fantastic example is the satire angle from FFF trash hero. The previous hero's harem was the standard for fanservice, picking up literally anything with a pulse and ending up with a number of wives in the hundreds. When the wives started assassinating one another and each others children, the hero just died inside, because he couldn't pick a side and all the people he loved were set on thinning the herd. This harem was composed of people the hero lusted after, political marriages, people he had genuine romantic interest in, etc etc. The author takes all of this vague vacuous nonsense and makes it a core tenant of the plot for a completely unrelated character, and its fricking amazing.

That sounds fantastic, I avoided that story like the plague due to the tags but I'll have to check that out now, thanks for the tip. 


OT: Yeah I think most things have been said already and now I'm kicking the dead horse. I don't mind the idea of the MC having multiple partners in sex or marriage, but they gotta be PEOPLE FIRST and LOVE INTERESTS SECOND, y'know? It's especially bad when a well-written character just gets reduced to harem member status, obediately bends over, and erase 90% of their personality. There's this one story I vaguely recall, where a really well-written swordswoman character showed up, did great for the first 70 chapters or so, and then she became a harem member and I don't think she was ever mentioned carrying a sword again. She just wasn't interesting anymore now that she'd been 'captured'. The author didn't think of her as a character, but a capture target. She just existed in the periphery. This was a conqueror of continents, a former slave who through hard work climbed up the ladder and became a general through grit and hard work, who just meekly got addicted to a spineless MC and abandoned her country, her ambitions, and her entire life to go live on a farm with an asshole who thought he was nice, never to be mentioned again in any plot of importance, because she wasn't the 'main girl'. Why? Because the MC said something nice to her once. 

Like. Eff it. No. Please, don't. Romance doesn't work like this. 

Re: Why Hate Harem?

#19
This is very fun, but I wish to raise a counterpoint in defense of harems.

When I was a wee girl, I really liked otome games. My god, it pains me to admit this, but I loved them. 

Anyway, I feel the whole harem situation is different in games, probably because they’re designed as a second person experience. 

And let me tell you, when you’re young and suffering from low-self esteem, having a whole goddamn goon-squad vying for plain little you? That is a good feeling, not gonna lie.

Re: Why Hate Harem?

#20

YuanMi Wrote: This is very fun, but I wish to raise a counterpoint in defense of harems.

When I was a wee girl, I really liked otome games. My god, it pains me to admit this, but I loved them. 

Anyway, I feel the whole harem situation is different in games, probably because they’re designed as a second person experience. 

And let me tell you, when you’re young and suffering from low-self esteem, having a whole goddamn goon-squad vying for plain little you? That is a good feeling, not gonna lie.



Haha, very true, i simply liked reading harem in literature, because who doesn't like reading about multiple beautiful women